Sunday June 16, 2019
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Following a national search, the Council on Postsecondary Education unanimously selected Dr. Aaron Thompson as its fourth president.

Thompson, who presently serves as the Council’s executive vice president and chief academic officer, will transition to his new responsibilities Nov. 1.

He is the first Kentucky native and African-American to hold the position since the Council was formed 21 years ago.

“We have greatly benefited at the state level by Aaron’s strategic leadership and statesmanship over the past decade. Time and time again, we have relied on Aaron as an essential advocate and leader across many fronts, including the critical areas of college opportunity and student success,” said Council Chair Sherrill Zimmerman.

“We are confident that he will be the innovative, dynamic and transformational leader that will benefit Kentucky higher education and our students,” added Zimmerman.

“I am humbled by the honor of being named the fourth president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. I love Kentucky, and it has been my life’s mission to add to the Commonwealth’s prosperity through education,” said Thompson.

Thompson is passionate about sharing how education was a catalyst for his own success.

“As a native of Clay County, a son of an illiterate coal miner and a mother with only an eighth grade education, I am not only a first-generation college graduate, I am a first- generation high school graduate. Now, I am immensely fortunate to have an opportunity to represent that great opportunity to all citizens of Kentucky,” he said.

“I want to thank the Council, staff and leadership for this show of confidence,” Thompson added.

Thompson came to the Council in 2009 from Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), where he held a variety of academic leadership positions and was a tenured professor in the department of educational leadership and policy studies. In May 2016, he left the Council for more than a year to serve as interim president for Kentucky State University.

As a nationally respected leader, he has served on more than 50 state and national boards and committees. He currently is board chair for the National Council on Community and Education Partnerships and serves on the Quality Assurance Commons for Higher and Postsecondary Education Advisory Board. He also serves on the corporate board for Baptist Health Care and is the chair of the Committee of Governance Effectiveness.

At the state level, Thompson serves on the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board (KWIB), KWIB Employer Engagement Committee and KWIB Education Attainment and Completion Committee, the Charter Schools Advisory Committee, the Kentucky Humanities Council, the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board, and the Citizens Action Committee for the Destruction of Chemical Weapons, among others.

Thompson earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and sociology from Eastern Kentucky University, a master’s degree in sociology and a doctorate in sociology, both from the University of Kentucky.

Thompson will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Robert L. King, who served as president for nearly 10 years.

AGB Search conducted the national search.

Council will negotiate a final contract at its next meeting set Nov. 15-16.

For more information on the search process, and to view Dr. Thompson’s curriculum vitae, visit: http://cpe.ky.gov/aboutus/presidentialsearch.html.

Representatives from State and Local offices joined together to celebrate the completion of the Urton Lane Bridge in southeastern Jefferson County. Phase I of the Urton Lane Project was first funded in July 2011 through an appropriation by Councilman Stuart Benson, seeks to develop more than 400 acres of land located in the southeastern portion of the Bluegrass Commercial Park. When all phases of the project are completed, the Urton Lane Extension will grant a new access route to Taylorsville Road and the Gene Snyder for persons seeking to transport goods or commute to work.

“The completion of the Urton Lane Corridor will take time, but when completed will lead to approximately 10,000 new jobs for the area and nearly two million square feet of office and industrial space.The jobs created as part of this project are expected to pay higher than average wages and demand well trained workers while releasing few if any emissions. The Urton Lane Corridor project is a great example of cooperative efforts by public and private partners that will be an economic boon for our community.” – Councilman Stuart Benson

The total cost for the completed portion of the Urton Lane Extension is $1.5 million. Additionally, the bridge was constructed with multi modal pedestrian traffic needs in mind. The north and south approach ramps will be constructed as the many acres of adjacent land are developed.

“The bridge project gets us closer to completion of the Urton Lane Corridor, which has been talked about for years. And it’s time to make it a reality. Connecting this bridge to Urton Lane and completing the Urton Lane Corridor will help us add up to 10,000 new jobs.” – Mayor Greg Fischer

In addition to funds pooled by the nine Republican members of the Louisville Metro Council, additional funding for the project was included in the FY17 Mayor’s Budget Proposal through use of System Development Charges. This funding source seeks to improve transit in some of the fastest growing parts of Louisville Metro and comes from fees paid each time a new home, apartment or townhome is constructed in southeastern Jefferson County.

“Transportation projects like the Urton Lane Bridge provide vital connections to keep Kentucky’s economy moving, I applaud the efforts of Councilman Benson, who worked tirelessly to make this project a reality. By placing economic development ahead of partisanship, we are confident that there will be further opportunities for new development and jobs in Jefferson County and throughout the Commonwealth.” – Governor Matt Bevin

About the Urton Lane Bridge Project:

  • Project funding starting in July 2011 with the final funding for the project added as part of the
    FY18 Budget.
  • Construction started in May 2017 and was completed in early April 2018.
  • Total Project Cost: 1.5 million.
  • When complete, the Urton Lane Extension is expected to help develop over 400 acres of land adjacent to the Bluegrass Commerce Park and help create more than 10,000 jobs with an expected average salary greater than the average for Louisville Metro.\
  • Constructing a bridge over an existing railroad corridor brought additional obstacles and levels of approval than most public projects.
  • Project was managed by Louisville Metro Public Works, Mindel Scott & Associates and included work with outside stakeholders from Hollenbach-Oakley, Norfolk Southern, American Contracting, LLC, Qk4 and Louisville Metro Council District 20.

For more information on this event or the Urton Lane Bridge Project, please contact Stephen Haag, Jr at 574-1204 or steve.haag@louisvilleky.gov .

Photo: AT&T Kentucky

AT&T is continuing efforts to drive economic development and investment in Kentucky.  AT&T and local officials today announced that the Louisville & Jefferson County Riverport Authority, more commonly known as Riverport Industrial Park, has been designated AT&T Fiber Ready.

The AT&T Fiber Ready designation helps economic development leaders more effectively position their communities for site selection by emphasizing the availability of high-speed, fiber-based services.

In today’s world, connectivity is vital to new employers and businesses of every type.

“It is always encouraging when the business community comes alongside local leadership and provides a resource like this designation to highlight what our community brings to the table, when companies are making the important decisions on where they have the best chance to succeed,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Our community has many wonderful aspects to attract businesses looking to locate or move, and having the ‘Fiber Ready’ designation is a key tool in the toolbox to emphasize that we are ready to face the challenges of a modern economy.”

“The AT&T Fiber Ready designation provides a clear stamp to tell the business community that we have the fiber-optic infrastructure in place to meet the needs of businesses,” said Kent Oyler, president & CEO, Greater Louisville Inc. “I am grateful for the leadership of our elected officials here in the city and in our state legislature who have created a more positive, pro-investment environment in the Commonwealth.”

AT&T has been deploying high-speed, fiber-optic infrastructure across Kentucky for years, totaling nearly 980,000 strand miles of fiber-optics to date, and the AT&T Fiber Ready designation is a tool for economic development leaders to highlight the assets available in their facilities.

“For years, AT&T has invested in Kentucky to deliver high-speed Internet in urban and rural areas all across the Commonwealth using the latest wired and wireless technologies, and this announcement offers an opportunity to highlight AT&T’s fiber infrastructure in the Riverport Industrial Park – infrastructure that is helping local businesses drive job creation,” said Hood Harris, president, AT&T Kentucky. “AT&T Kentucky’s employees are working hard every day to deploy our fiber-based network that delivers the high-speed Internet access that Kentuckians want and need, and the fiber optic connectivity that is available in the Riverport Industrial Park is in place to meet the communications needs of businesses of all sizes.”

Gov. Matt Bevin congratulated Kings Royal Biotech Inc. (KRB), a manufacturer of cannabidiol isolate, for breaking ground on its $30 million-plus facility, a project expected to create 140 full-time jobs in the West Kentucky city of Bardwell.

“Ag-tech businesses are increasingly recognizing the many benefits of manufacturing hemp-related products in Kentucky,” Gov. Bevin said. “We are grateful for the jobs and investment that Kings Royal Biotech brings and for the company’s efforts to build lasting relationships with West Kentucky farmers. We look forward to seeing our state become a global leader in this rapidly growing industry. Congratulations to KRB on today’s announcement and to the Carlisle County community on this exciting new opportunity.”

KRB will build its 75,000-square-foot building on nearly nine acres in Carlisle County. The facility will use state-of-the-art methods to extract, refine and re-crystallize cannabidiol (CBD) from industrial hemp and is believed to be the largest operation of its kind in the nation. With the issuance of an industrial hemp research pilot program processor license by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, KRB plans to start processing hemp in late 2018 and ramp up to full capacity by summer 2019.

“Industrial hemp is the next big thing in Kentucky,” said Keith Taylor, chief operating officer at KRB. “The bourbon industry is synonymous with the state, and it is our goal to reach that level of success, where any time someone thinks of hemp-related products, they think of Kentucky.”

KRB, incorporated in Kentucky in 2017, partnered with a China-based company specializing in industrial hemp-related products to establish the Bardwell operation. KRB licensed its partner’s patented extraction and crystallization process in West Kentucky. CBD isolate and full spectrum oil will then be sold in commercial quantities throughout the US and worldwide. People use CBD isolate for numerous health and wellness purposes.

Taylor noted Kentucky’s ideal conditions for the growth of hemp as a major influence in its decision to locate in the state, and the company has hired J.T. Workman IV, of Carlisle County, as its growing manager. Workman assisted the company to secure an agreement with local farmers to plant and harvest more than 1,000 acres of hemp.

KRB also has partnered with Andrea Schiavi of Lexington-based Schiavi Seeds LLC to provide hemp seeds certified through the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA). Schiavi Seeds received recognition in fall 2017 for becoming the first company since the 1930s to produce certified hemp seeds in the commonwealth.

“Kentucky’s nationally-renowned industrial hemp research pilot program continues to grow,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. “The number of processors is increasing, creating new market opportunities for our farmers and jobs for Kentuckians across the commonwealth. I’d like to thank Governor Bevin and the Cabinet for Economic Development for continuing to attract new and exciting businesses to Kentucky.”

Sen. Danny Carroll, of Paducah, expressed enthusiasm for the project.

“I’d like to congratulate and welcome Kings Royal Biotech to Carlisle County as it builds a $30 million facility that will create 140 jobs in Senate District 2,” Sen. Carroll said. “As a manufacturer of CBD, Kings Royal Biotech uses state-of-the-art methods that will help the commonwealth lead the nation in this fast-growing industry. I look forward to the completion of this project and the national distribution of its Kentucky products.”

Rep. Steven Rudy, of Paducah, welcomed the company to west Kentucky.

“This facility will be a tremendous asset for the Carlisle County region,” Rep. Rudy said. “Hemp production is a growing industry and the company will provide more than 100 great jobs in Kentucky. We welcome Kings Royal Biotech to the state.”

Carlisle County Judge-Executive Greg Terry said the project shines a light on the community’s ability to support new business.

“I am very proud of the work that the Carlisle County Industrial Development Board has done to show what a great place Carlisle County would be for this new CBD isolate facility,” Judge-Executive Terry said. “I look forward to working with Kings Royal Biotech during this process.”

KRB can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. In fiscal 2017, the Kentucky Skills Network provided training for more than 120,000 Kentuckians and 5,700 companies from a variety of industry sectors.

A detailed community profile for Carlisle County can be viewed at http://bit.ly/CarlisleCo.

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube.

EY, one of the world’s largest business-services organizations, opened its new center for executive assistants and other professional functions within its expanded and remodeled downtown Louisville office, Gov. Matt Bevin and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced today.

“We are excited to see a global icon like EY finalize plans to make Kentucky an integral part of its operations,” Gov. Bevin said. “EY’s new professional service center is further evidence that the commonwealth is an ideal destination for companies seeking a skilled, professional workforce, outstanding quality of life and low operating costs. Their innovative office concept is a prime example of why the company has been a leader in its industry for generations. We are grateful for their continued confidence and investment in Kentucky.”

The 20,109-square-foot office at 400 W. Market St. serves as EY’s Kentucky and southern Indiana market headquarters and houses members of the firm’s expanding National Executive Assistant Team (NEAT) along with the rest of EY’s practice. The center supports EY executives across the country. The firm operates similar centers in Dallas, Cleveland and Tucson. The company invested $4.3 million to remodel and outfit the Central Business District location as an expansion of its professional practice office, which has been part of Kentucky for nearly a century.

The Louisville NEAT center showcases the company’s EY@Work office design, which includes a mix of individual and collaborative spaces and robust technology resources to support teamwork and productivity. EY also announced Louisville native Greg Pope will lead the NEAT center as office managing partner for Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

“The opening of our modern, engaging office space and the ever-evolving business climate makes for an exciting time to join the Louisville office. This space will allow our people to grow as professionals and do their best work at EY, with innovation and teaming at the forefront. This collaborative environment will lead to us asking better questions and providing better answers for our clients,” Pope said. “We’ve built an amazing practice and culture here in Louisville. As a Louisville native, I could not be more excited and proud to carry them forward and work closely with our people to advance EY’s purpose of building a better working world.”

EY’s market position and brand in Louisville led in large part to the firm selecting Louisville for the NEAT center. Specialty branding in the office also celebrates EY’s 95-year legacy in the Louisville area, with unique visual nods to Muhammad Ali, the Kentucky Derby and more.

Pope succeeds David Calzi, who assumes the lead role for EY’s central region government and public sector.

“I could not be happier for Greg and for our entire practice. He is an amazing professional and more importantly a great guy who cares very deeply about the community we all live in. He along with our dedicated and passionate professionals will take the EY brand in the market to even greater heights.” Calzi said. “I am heartened by this successful transition as well as the addition of the National Executive Assistant Team being an impetus for the expansion of our local footprint. EY has been a proud local citizen for close to a century and will continue to be so for many years to come.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said EY’s new space helps it continue growing as an integral part of the city’s flourishing professional services sector.

“Thanks to EY’s continued investment in our city, Louisville’s business services cluster is leading the way in innovative back office support,” said Mayor Fischer. “We congratulate EY on officially opening their forward-thinking and efficient center for doing business on a global level, and we look forward to supporting EY’s team.”

Sen. Gerald Neal, of Louisville, welcomed the new jobs to the state’s 33rd District.

“This investment and commitment in our community will provide much-needed jobs and a boost to our local economy,” Sen. Neal said. “We look forward to a long and prosperous partnership.”

Rep. Darryl Owens, of Louisville, said the company’s new office was the product of a group effort and proof the city is a major driver of commerce.

“This opening is great news for our community, especially those who will benefit from these new jobs and the businesses that EY serves,” Rep. Owens said. “I want to thank its leaders for making this investment, and I appreciate the local and state cooperative spirit that made this announcement, and others like it, possible. This further solidifies our well-earned reputation as the commonwealth’s economic engine.”

EY traces its roots to the early 1900s with the founding of two accounting firms; Ernst & Ernst in Cleveland, and Arthur Young & Co. in Chicago. Their 1989 merger created Ernst & Young, which then became Ernst & Young LLP.

The firm is a member firm of the global EY organization whose members provide assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services to many of the world’s largest companies. EY operates in 152 countries and employs 231,000 people globally.

To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority in February 2017 preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $1 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.

In addition, the firm can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. In fiscal year 2017, the Kentucky Skills Network provided training for nearly 95,000 Kentuckians and 5,000 companies from a variety of industry sectors.

For more information on EY, visit www.ey.com.

WWE’s Smackdown Live is back in the Commonwealth for another round on Tuesday night.  For the first time in nearly six years, a live televised WWE event will be held at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

“It’s great to have WWE back in Kentucky for another live televised show,” said Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Commission (KBWC) Chairman Chad Miller.  “More shows translate to more dollars for local economies, and the Commission is thrilled that our efforts are paying off for our wrestling fans, athletes, local businesses, and the combat sports industry in Kentucky.”

Since 2016, the Commission has repealed nearly 40 percent of the state’s combat sports regulations as part of Gov. Bevin’s Red Tape Reduction Initiative. The “cut rule,” repealed as part of the initiative, required an athlete to leave a match if he or she bled.  The regulation prevented live televised matches from being held in Kentucky. Since the repeal, WWE has hosted several shows in Kentucky, including a Smackdown Live show earlier this year at the KFC Yum! Center.

“There is no doubt that the growth we are seeing in combat sports is directly tied to a transparent and fair regulatory environment,” added Miller.  “The Commission continues to look for ways to promote efficiency while also ensuring athlete safety.  Athletes can now apply for licenses online, and the Commission has streamlined and repealed approximately 55 percent of the forms an athlete could be required to complete for licensure.  We believe that all of these measures will further a strong combat sports industry in Kentucky.”

As of Oct. 26, Governor Bevin’s Red Tape Reduction Initiative is responsible for repealing 188 regulations and targeting an additional 341 regulations for repeal. Over 2,208 of Kentucky’s 4,700 regulations have been reviewed as part of the initiative. Visit http://redtapereduction.com/ to learn more.

The KBWC oversees all professional boxing, wrestling, and full contact competitive bouts and exhibitions in Kentucky. Learn more about the commission at http://kbwa.ky.gov.

Photo: Kevin Kelly/Kentucky Department of Fish And Wildlife

The Salato Wildlife Education Center in Frankfort will close for the winter at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22.

Seasonal closures allow the center’s staff to conduct needed maintenance to exhibits and facilities, which ensure a quality experience for the center’s 50,000 yearly visitors. Staff members also use the time to train the wildlife used in the center’s educational programs.

The center offers a number of wildlife and conservation programs, many of which employ the use of live animals including snakes, turtles, raptors, and mammals.

“Our staff is going to focus on training our two newest program animals during the winter closure,” said Salato manager Brent McCarty.  “We’re excited to have two new animals that will help us make connections with our visitors. Our goal is to unveil these animals to the public in the spring of 2018.”

Fans of the center can view see what’s going on behind the scenes during the winter closure on the Salato Facebook page or on the Salato Twitter page. The Salato Wildlife Education Center reopens for the season March 1, 2018.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources operates the Salato Center to educate and inform the public about wildlife and conservation. The center is located off U.S. 60 in Frankfort, approximately 1½ miles west of the U.S. 127 intersection. A bronze deer statue marks the entrance of the main Kentucky Fish and Wildlife campus.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Salato is closed on Sunday, Monday and state holidays.

Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for youth 5 to 18. Children under 5 are admitted free. The center also offers annual memberships for individuals and families.

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